Best stage show 1999 la music awards
Nominee at the 10th annual LA Music Awards
17th LA Music Awards Showcase series event
on the 10th annual song sampler
Love Your TV…Kill Your Radio
Tim’s Green Suit Music
reviewed by Eric Layton
A guitar crunching, frequently humorous and sometimes poignant blend of eccentric rock, Pi Gamma’s Love Your TV…Kill Your Radio is one hell of a ride. Not so much an album as a warm invitation into an alternate, seen-it-all Hollywood reality with habits, perspectives and emotions all its own, this disc could have been called Lifestyles of the Poor and Jaded.
Love Your TV could only have been birthed from the collective loins of a veteran, Sunset Strip-pounding band. Pi Gamma are proud freaks – as persistent, talented and hard-working as any act that’s ever graced an L.A. club stage. As any local musician will tell you, trying to get noticed in the L.A. music scene is a masochistic endeavor. Pi Gamma, a quintet that has answered to various names in their decade-plus tenure (they were once known simply as Pig), have demonstrated that they can take the punishment. At this point, they probably like it. A lot.
Of course, all those public floggings at the feet of the (now torn down) giant Marlboro man have understandably warped the worldview of Pi Gamma (singer-guitarist Michael “Ace” Baker, guitarist Dave Abrahams, keyboardist Alan Okuye, bassist Ted Bello and drummer Jeanne Thomson). One day in Hollywood’s enough to color your creative process, but several years? Forget about it, dog.
With direct nods to the flashy arena rock cultivated on the Strip, television theme music and the tradition of Frank Zappa – to their credit, they honor his skewed, deadpan humor and free-falling virtuosity more than they imitate it – Pi Gamma grab the listener and pull them onto a runaway train, bound for glory…or at least to a killer party. The CD opens with “Hi,” a celebration, like the later “Chillin’ (2000),” of the wake-and-bake, stoner lifestyle. Then, suddenly, they jump the track, milking their grin-inducing swine obsession with “Pig is for Your Family” and the Hollywood power-player satire “A Diff’rent Kind of Pig,” a rollicking, anthemic ditty that may very well be the best TV show theme without an actual show, ever (a wise television exec should jump on it, pronto).
But does humor belong in music? In Pi Gamma’s world, it sure does. The brutally funny “Who’s Laughing Now” should be required listening for anyone who’s ever been or plans to go to a class reunion. Meanwhile, “You Make Me Want to Eat Salad” sharply expresses the inadequacy any average, out-of-shape guy feels when a hot chick walks by (Baker’s vocal work here is fittingly agitated and explosive).
To be sure Pi Gamma has an overdeveloped funny bone. It’s too bad it obscures their sensitive heart – “Get Me Out of Greenwood” is a touching, homesick anthem that counters the clowning spirit of the other material, and it’s an all too rare moment. That said, it pales in comparison to Love Your TV’s choicest cut, “Should I Drive Home,” an epic, haunting glimpse into the mind of a guy who’s had a few too many. The group coheres wonderfully on this closing track, and provokes memories of one’s own past, questionable judgment – who hasn’t been in a similar situation?
In a nutshell, Love Your TV…Kill Your Radio is a roller coaster ride in the theme park we call Hollywood. All are welcome. Even pigs.